Tag: Jazz

Award-winning pianist/composer Vijay Iyer closes 2017-18 Jazz Series

Grammy Award-nominated pianist/composer/bandleader/electronic musician and writer Vijay Iyer and his five-person band closes Lawrence University 2017-18 Jazz Series Friday, May 11 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Tickets for the performance, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Vijay Iyer
Vijay Iyer. Photo by Jimmy Katz.

A New York native — born in Albany, raised in Fairport — the multi-talented Iyer began playing the piano by ear as a child and mostly self-taught on the instrument.

That hasn’t prevented him from earning Downbeat magazine’s Jazz Artist of the Year honors in 2012, 2015 and 2016. He was named  Artist of the Year in Jazz Times’ Critics’ Poll and Readers’ Poll for 2017.

His numerous accolades also include Musician of the Year honors from the Jazz Journalists Association in 2010 and being named one of the 50 Most Influential Global Indians by GQ India in 2011.

“It is a great honor to have Vijar Iyer close our Jazz Series,” said José Encarnación, assistant professor of music and director of jazz studies at Lawrence. “As a pianist and composer Mr. Iyer will bring his own unique style, a style that pushes the edges of modern jazz’s contours with a lyrical and elegant approach to improvisation. This will be a concert full of ingenuity, grace and distinction.”

In addition to his current sextet — horn player Graham Haynes, alto saxophonist Steve Lehman, tenor saxophonist Mark Shim, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore — Iyer has led several distinct combos, including Spirit Complex, The Poisonous Prophets and the Vijar Iyer Trio. He has collaborated with some of the most important contemporary jazz pioneers, including Steve Coleman, Rudresh Mahanthappa and the “king of the hip-hop concept” Mike Ladd, among others.

Iyer’s discography spans 21 albums, including 2017’s “Far From Over” with the Vijay Iyer Sextet. The album was atop numerous year-end critics polls, while Rolling Stone magazine hailed it as “2017’s jazz album to beat.” His 2013 album, “Holding it Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project,” a politically searing collaboration with poet-performer Mike Ladd, was named Album of the Year by the Los Angeles Times.

Vijay Iyer Sextet
The Vijay Iyer Sextet includes drummer Marcus Gilmore, Iyer, horn player Graham Haynes, tenor saxophonist Mark Shim, alto saxophonist Steve Lehman and bassist Stephan Crump. Photo by Lynne Harty.

Iyer, who earned a Ph.D. in    an interdisciplinary study of the cognitive science of music from the University of California, earned one of the country’s most coveted awards in 2013, a $500,000 “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

As a composer, he his commissions have earned world premieres performed by such notable artists as Imani Winds, The Silk Road Ensemble, Brentano Quartet, Bang on a Can All-Stars, among others.

Iyer serves as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts at Harvard University as well as the director of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

DownBeat Magazine names Lawrence Jazz Ensemble, Jake Victor 5TET nation’s best

Patty Darling
Patty Darling ’85

The best in the country. So says DownBeat Magazine.

The “bible” of the jazz world has named the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble (LUJE) and the student quintet Jake Victor 5TET winners in its 41st annual Student Music Awards (SMA) competition. Results were announced in the magazine’s June edition.

Under the direction of Patty Darling, the 19-member LUJE was named undergraduate college winner in the SMA’s large jazz ensemble category. Seniors Jake Victor and Jack Kilkelly-Schmidt, who formed a band last fall while studying abroad at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in the Netherlands, won the undergraduate college SMA for small jazz combo/student-led ensemble as the Jake Victor 5TET for the album “Twisted Heads.”

This was the fourth time in its history LUJE has been honored by DownBeat. It was previously recognized in 1985, 2000 and 2007.

DownBeat’s SMAs are considered among the highest music honors in the field of jazz education. They are presented in 13 categories in five separate divisions: junior high, high school, performing high school, undergraduate college and graduate college.

“Winning the DownBeat award is certainly not something we take for granted, said José Encarnación, director of jazz studies at Lawrence. “Being recipients of the DownBeat award is an honor and privilege we receive for loving what we do. We are most grateful.”Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble

Darling said the award is a confirmation of the quality of jazz studies at Lawrence.

“It is such a great honor,” said Darling, a 1985 Lawrence graduate and protégé of the late Fred Sturm, founder of LUJE. “It’s wonderful to have Lawrence recognized nationally as having a strong jazz program. I knew our performances were very strong, but I also know how the DownBeat awards are very competitive. As a large ensemble, it’s difficult to try to guess what music would be considered really dynamic.”

LUJE was selected for the SMA from a submitted recording of three songs: an arrangement by Sturm of Marcus Miller’s “Splatch”; “Wyrgly” by Maria Schneider and “Egberto” by Florian Ross. “Splatch” was performed by LUJE last October at the Kaleidoscope concert at the Fox Valley Performing Arts Center and then again as the opening number last November at Lawrence’s Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend concert where it was recorded.

“There is no way LUJE is as strong as it is without Lawrence’s outstanding jazz faculty working so closely with the students. It’s very rewarding as an educator to be the one to channel this talent from the students and from the faculty, and all that energy, into something that is recognized as successful. It’s truly a great privilege and a joy for me to have the opportunity to create music with them every day.”
    — Patty Darling, director of LUJE

“All three submissions were good, but ‘Splatch’ was the absolute best,” said Darling, a 1984 DownBeat winner herself as a Lawrence student for her arrangement of “Seven Steps to Heaven.” “The performers and soloist were outstanding and the live mix was outstanding. It’s tough to get big bands to sound great in the Chapel. The band played with so much energy. It was one of those perfect performances where everything went right.”

Two of the selections submitted were from the 2016-17 version of LUJE, but Darling said both last year’s and this year’s ensemble are special.

“Both bands have lots of depth, with good rhythm sections and several students with strong improvisation skills,” said Darling. “There is something about this year’s band that makes almost every rehearsal fun and engaging. They support each other, they’re excited, they’re absolutely dedicated, they have this camaraderie that I’ve never seen in a band before. They really want to work together and help each other.”

While Darling’s name is on the SMA certificate as the ensemble’s director, she is quick to stress “it takes a village” to win awards like this.

“There is no way LUJE is as strong as it is without Lawrence’s outstanding jazz faculty working so closely with the students,” said Darling, now in her third year of leading the ensemble. “It’s very rewarding as an educator to be the one to channel this talent from the students and from the faculty, and all that energy, into something that is recognized as successful. It’s truly a great privilege and a joy for me to have the opportunity to create music with them every day.”

Where LUJE’s SMA recognition was a bit more calculated, Victor and his Lawrence roommate Kilkelly-Schmidt’s award was full of serendipity. After all, until a few months ago, the Jake Victor 5TET didn’t even exist. But thanks to an open jam session, five virtual strangers collectively found musical magic.

Jake Victor and Jack Kilkelly-Schmidt
Seniors Jake Victor (left) ad Jack Kilkelly-Schmidt.

Early in the school year, at a weekly public jam session in Amsterdam hosted by a local establishment, Victor, a pianist, and Kilkelly-Schmidt, who plays guitar, found themselves on stage with a drummer from Spain and a bassist from Belgium. They played one standard together and had a blast.

“We fit like a glove,” said Victor. “Immediately after we finished playing, we looked at each other said ‘let’s get out of here, grab a drink and talk.’”

The next day at a conservatory class, a saxophonist from Estonia turned the new quartet into a quintet. They began playing jazz standards together for the next several weeks before a personal goal of Victor’s altered their history.

“I had set a challenge for myself of doing more writing,” said Victor, who was trying to amass material for his senior recital. “I was writing every day, not necessarily a full tune, but I was writing something every day. I wrote one tune that I liked, I was getting these songs together for my recital back here in the spring. I told the guys, I had this tune and I thought if we could record it on a Zoom recorder, I could send it to my guys back home as a reference recording so they could get an idea of how the tune should sound on my recital in the spring.”

On board with the idea, the band soon recorded another Victor original.

“I told them, ‘well, I do have more. If we could get them all together that would be awesome,’” Victor said, who brought several more of his compositions to the next session. “We came up with the idea to record all of them professionally and make an album. It ended up being The Jake Victor 5TET which was crazy to me. I wrote all the tunes and it was my first time as a band leader.”

The rapidity in which everything came together still makes Victor shake his head.

“The thing that blows my mind, it was October 11th when I brought in the first tune and we recorded the album on December 8th,” said Victor, a percussion performance major from Palatine, Ill. “Start to finish of the album was a two-month period of writing the tunes, learning the tunes and recording the tunes. That’s a testament to all the guys. There’s not many people that I’ve played with that really just fit like a glove that easily. The chemistry of the group is really something special.”

"Twisted Heads" album coverThe end result, “Twisted Heads,” was recorded at Key Element Music Studios, which, adding to the serendipity, is owned by Daan Herweg, the pianist who hosted the open jam session at Café Nel in Amsterdam where the musicians first met. The album features seven Victor songs and one track written by his friend, Jason Koth, a 2017 Lawrence graduate.

“I asked Jason to do some electronics on the album after the fact,” Victor explained. “He created a minute and a half interlude based on the rest of my material.”

With Darling’s encouragement and recommendation, Victor submitted two tracks off the album for DownBeat’s consideration. It was late February when an email from DownBeat popped up his phone while he was practicing in the jazz room. Bedlam resided just a click away.

“I opened it, started reading and got crazy excited,” said Victor. “I saw ‘We have the results for the DownBeat Awards and we have good news! I immediately went back, FaceTimed the quintet and said ‘Guys, we won the DownBeat!’ It was pretty surreal.”

Twisted Heads” was released on April 15. Victor, Kilkelly-Schmidt and their bandmates — drummer Eloi Pascual, bassist Matteo Mazzu and saxophonist Tobias Tammearu — are currently putting plans in place for a 10-day Midwest tour starting in late August from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Lexington, Ky. What the future holds is still to be determined. The three international musicians would like to come to the states for a while, while Victor is contemplating returning to Amsterdam for grad school.

For Victor, winning the DownBeat award was the icing on a valuable personal experience.

“It turned out to be a really worthwhile challenge. I told myself by the time I graduate I want to have a book of my tunes that I can bring to a gig. When I first started writing seriously, I always sat on tunes for too long — nothing was ever good enough for me to bring in to bandmates and this was a way to work through that.

“I didn’t want to look back on the last three years and have three tunes written,” he added. “I also realized I would have to write a lot of stuff that I didn’t like before I could write stuff I did like. This was kind of a way for me to piece through all of that and start mining and chiseling away at whatever is going to become my compositional voice.”

Since DownBeat launched its Student Music Awards competition in 1978, Lawrence students and ensembles have won a total of 30 SMAs, including 10 in the past eight years.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence welcomes jazz legend Joe Lovano

Grammy Award-winning saxophonist/composer Joe Lovano showcases his conceptual and thematic ventures Friday, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. in a Lawrence University 2017-18 Jazz Series Concert. J

Joining Lovano on stage will be his Classic Quartet bandmates: Lawrence Fields, piano, Peter Slavov, bass and Lamy Istrefi, drums.

Saxophonist Joe LovanoTickets for the performance in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Lovano’s career has been defined by his creative efforts to find new modes of artistic expression and new ways to define the jazz idiom. With his bandmates, Lovano explores the rich history of mainstream jazz through swing and bebop, driving the edges while honoring the structures of straight-ahead jazz.

José Encarnación, director of jazz studies at Lawrence and an accomplished saxophonist in his own right, calls Lovano “one of my favorites jazz artists of all time.”

“I love every single one of his recordings,” said Encarnacion, who had the pleasure of meeting Lovano in the 1990s while performing at a jazz festival in Puerto Rico with the Bob Mintzer Big Band. “Joe’s music is always fresh, rooted on the tradition but always moving forward with new sounds and adventurous musical stories.”

A 12-time Grammy Award nominee, Lovano won the trophy in 2000 in the best large jazz ensemble album category for his work on “52nd Street Themes.” That same year, he topped both the readers and critics polls in DownBeat magazine as tenor saxophonist of the year. DownBeat named Lovano its jazz artist of the year twice, including 2010 when he captured the magazine’s “triple crown”: tenor saxophonist, jazz artist and jazz group (Joe Lovano Us 5) of the year.

His discography includes 28 albums as leader and more than 50 others as either co-leader or sideman.

Lovano has taught as the Gary Burton Chair in Jazz Performance as an artist-in-residence at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lizz Wright, Storms/Nocturnes headline Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Lizz Wright and the immersive trio Storms/Nocturnes headline Lawrence University’s 37th annual salute to all things jazz.

Lizz Wright outdoors leaning on a fence
Singer Lizz Wright opens this year’s Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend with a performance Friday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. (Photo by Jesse Kitt.)

Wright opens the two-concert weekend Friday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. while Storms/Nocturnes shares the stage with Lawrence’s own 18-member jazz ensemble Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. to close the Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend. Both concerts are in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Tickets, at $30/$25 for adults, $25/$20 for seniors and $20/$18 for students are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Wright, who NPR describes as “a sophisticated straddler of down-home blues, jazz, gospel, folk, southern pop and confessional singer-songwriter traditions,” will feature her latest studio album “Grace,” which was released in September. The album is an unadulterated reflection of Wright’s sense of place and belonging that’s deeply woven into the cultural fabric of America.

An invitation to openly contemplate our humanity, “Grace” is Wright’s proclamation to unearth our fundamental kindness and generosity. She uses it as vocal rite of passage, tracing the landscape between her native central and south Georgia and the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, N.C., where she currently makes her home.

“Grace” showcases the warm and weathered colors of Wright’s voice. Leaning into curated classics and contemporary covers, she pierces form with gentle and unfettered individuality.Album colver for Lizz Wright's "Grace"

“Lizz Wright is one of the most captivating vocalists in the jazz world today” said Patty Darling, director of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble and instructor of music. “With her powerful voice, she blends elements of gospel, blues, jazz, folk and pop music to create songs that inspire and connect her audiences.”

Storms/Nocturnes, a trio of international jazz giants — British saxophone legend Tim Garland, world-leading vibraphone virtuoso Joe Locke and Grammy Award-nominee pianist Geoffrey Keezer — create a unique three-way dialogue of captivating, immersive music. Melding their distinct styles and backgrounds, they create music that can be spacious or immensely complex, delicate but almost orchestral in depth. They collectively find their way into a new mood or feel before the listener realizes they have left the old one.

“Lizz Wright is one of the most captivating vocalists in the jazz world today.”
— Patty Darling, director of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble

Garland was voted “Musician of the Year” in 2006 by the Cross-Parliamentary Jazz Society. He has received commissions from the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Westminster Abbey Choir, as well as numerous small and large jazz-based ensembles.

He earned a 2009 Grammy Award for helping create “The New Crystal Silence,” which celebrated the long partnership between jazz legends Chick Corea and Gary Burton.

Locke, a vibraphonist renowned for stunning physical power and broad emotional range, has topped music polls and won multiple awards, including Earshot Golden Ear Awards for “Concert of the Year” and 2016 “Mallet Player of the Year” from the Jazz Journalists Association.

Jazz trio Storms/Nocturnes
Storms/Nocturnes — pianist Geoffrey Keezer, saxophonist Tim Garland and vibraphonist Tim Locke — perform Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 as part of Fred Sturm Jezz Celebration Weekend. They’ll be joined by the Lawrence University Jezz Ensemble.

London’s Royal Academy of Music appointed Locke Visiting International Vibraphone Consultant in 2008 and last year he was honored by his hometown of Rochester, N.Y., with induction into the city’s Music Hall of Fame.

Keezer, an Eau Claire native and two-time Grammy Award nominee, began playing jazz clubs as a teenager and was touring the country in his 20s with such jazz luminaries as Joshua Redman and Benny Golson.

__________________________________________
They are incredible performers and composers who are so tight in their bonds with each other. Their musical energy, passion and communication must be experienced.”
— Patty Darling on Storms/Nocturnes
__________________________________________

His intellectually abstract lyricism woven over exotically complex rhythms and harmonies makes him one of the most sought-after artists on the modern jazz scene.

Keezer has performed on projects ranging from solo to duo to quartet, from bandleader to big band, from post-bop jazz to electronica to global fusion. His 2009 CD “Áurea” earned a Best Latin Jazz album Grammy nomination. He teamed with Garland and Locke on the album “Via” in 2011 while he released his latest solo piano disk, “Heart of the Piano” in 2013.

Darling is excited about having LUJE join the talented trio on stage.

“They are incredible performers and composers who are so tight in their bonds with each other,” said Darling. “Their musical energy, passion and communication must be experienced. It will be a huge thrill for our students to perform with them.”

In addition to the two evening concerts, Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend features a series of free performances and clinics by Lawrence combos, big bands, jazz faculty and high school bands, with more than 700 high school and middle school students participating throughout the day on Saturday. A complete schedule can be found here.

Lawrence’s annual Jazz Celebration Weekend was renamed two years ago in honor of long-time music professor Fred Sturm, its founder and mentor who passed away in 2014.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet closes Lawrence University 2016-17 Jazz Series

One of the world’s pre-eminent trombone players closes Lawrence University’s 2016-17 Jazz Series.

A photo of saxophonist Delfeayo MarsalisThe Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet takes the stage of the Lawrence Memorial Chapel Saturday, May 13 at 8 p.m.

Tickets for the Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available online through the Lawrence Box Office or by calling 920-832-6749.

A member of the iconic Marsalis family — father Ellis and brothers Branford, Wynton and Jason—Delfeayo has carved his own space in the jazz world as a trombonist extraordinaire, producer and composer.

Hailed as “one of the best, most imaginative and musical trombonists of his generation” by the San Francisco Examiner, Marsalis has toured internationally with renowned bandleaders Art Blakey, Abdulla Ibrahim, Elvin Jones, Slide Hampton and Max Roach as well as leading his own groups.

Tim Albright, assistant professor of music at Lawrence who teaches trombone, says one word comes to mind whenever he listens to Delfeayo Marsalis: tasty.

“Each line is just right, every note is where it should be,” said Albright. “His sense of style and timing are vibrant and spot on. In Delfeayo’s warm sound and excellent lines you can hear a nod to the masters such as J.J. Johnson and Curtis Fuller and a look to the future. I can’t wait to have him here at Lawrence.”

Marsalis released his debut album as a leader in 1992, the Bible inspired “Pontius Pilate’s Decision” while 2014’s “The Last Southern Gentlemen” showcases his technical expertise and reveals his frequent touches of humor, such as his playful rendition of “Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?”

Last fall, in response to one of the country’s most unusual presidential elections, Marsalis and his big band —the Uptown Jazz Orchestra — released their debut album, “America Great Again!,” a collection of American music spanning African roots to the streets of Marsalis’ hometown of New Orleans.

“Each line is just right, every note is where it should be. His sense of style and timing are vibrant and spot on.
— Tim Albright, assistant professor of music

José Encarnación, director of Lawrence’s jazz studies program, calls himself “a profound admirer of the entire Marsalis family.”

“Having the master trombone player, Delfeayo Marsalis, close our Jazz Series for this year will be an honor,” said Encarnación. “I’m confident Delfeayo will provide his audience an extraordinary musical experience with his remarkable technique and fresh, innovative imagination. This is a concert not to be missed.”

A photo of Delfeayo MarsalisA prolific producer, Marsalis has overseen nearly 100 albums, beginning with is father’s “Syndrome” album in 1983 when he was only 17 years old. Additionally, he has produced albums for his brothers Branford and Wynton, Harry Connick, Jr, Spike Lee, Terence Blanchard, Lincoln Center Jazz and many other artists.

His family’s contributions to American music earned Delfeayo, his father and three brothers the nation’s highest jazz honor – a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in 2011. It was the first group award the NEA Jazz Masters had ever given.

He will be joined on stage by saxophonist Khari Allen Lee, pianist Victor Atkins, bass player Erick Wheeler and drummer Adonis Rose.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Senior Sam Genualdi wins national DownBeat award for original composition

The hits just keep coming for Sam Genualdi.

Head shot of student Sam Genualdi
Sam Genualdi ’17

The Lawrence University senior, who was awarded a $30,000 Watson Fellowship last month, can add 2017 DownBeat Student Music Awards (SMA) competition winner to his resume.

Genualdi has received the “Outstanding Original Composition” award in the undergraduate category for his large ensemble composition “Treelight” in the jazz magazine’s 40th annual competition.

Announced in DownBeat’s June edition, the SMAs are considered among the highest music honors in the field of jazz education. They are presented in 13 categories in five separate divisions: junior high, high school, performing high school, undergraduate college and graduate college.

The composition award is all the more impressive given Genualdi’s own admission.

“I didn’t really get into notated music, written down on the page, until I came to Lawrence,” said Genualdi, a student-designed contemporary improvisation major from Evanston, Ill. “I arrived not knowing how to read music very well, but once I was here, I voraciously tried to absorb as much information as I could to make myself the best musician I could be.”

Patty Darling, instructor of music who directs the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble and teaches jazz composition and arranging, offered Genualdi a commission last year to write  a large ensemble piece for the college’s annual Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend. He spent nine months working on the five-minute piece.

“It’s not your standard big-band music,” Genualdi says of “Treelight.” “It draws on influences from hip-hop, contemporary wind ensemble music and a lot of more spread out harmony. I had one central motif that I drew upon to create the whole thing. I took this short melodic idea and flipped it on its head a whole bunch of different ways to spin it out into the whole piece.”

When he started the “Treelight project, “sorting material” was the initial step in the process.

“I had tons of ideas, way too many melodic fragments and thoughts, and just pages of different stuff, recordings on my phone, different little things that I was thinking about using,” Genualdi explained. “Most of that came from just improvising. I’d sit my phone on the piano, record, and then just start playing. I’d listen back and pick things out. I ended up distilling it to this one idea and I wanted to see how many different ways I could change it.”

Darling said all of Genualdi’s compositions reflect “his exceptional talent as an improviser and as a diverse musician.”

“Sam develops simple motifs into beautiful, extended phrases and integrates many musical influences into compositions that are unique and compelling,” said Darling, a 1985 Lawrence graduate who won a DownBeat award herself in 1984 for best jazz arrangement.

“He’s such a well-rounded musician: a composer, a performer, an improviser and a scholar,” Darling added. “Sam is always open to new experiences and learning more. No matter what paths he chooses, I’m confident he will always be creating beautiful and meaningful music.”

Photo of Sam Genualdi playing his guitarGenualdi plays guitar on “Treelight,” which was recorded last fall by the Lawrence Jazz Ensemble under Darling’s direction. He calls it “the best thing I’ve written that has seen the light of day.”

The title was inspired by family vacations and backpacking trips in the woods and mountains out west when he was young.

“There isn’t an English word for the way beams of light pass through the trees in a forest,” said Genualdi. “There are words in Japanese for this shoot of light coming down but not an equivalent English word. I was poking around and found something that suggested ‘tree light’ might be the closest, but that’s not an actual word. It’s not defined in the dictionary.”

Beyond a combination of shock and excitement, Genualdi said when he learned of his DownBeat award, his mind immediately drifted back to his freshman year and his experiences playing in the jazz ensemble under the late Fred Sturm, Lawrence’s long-time director of jazz studies who died of cancer in 2014.

“I know wherever Fred is, he’s proud, and that makes me very happy, too. I don’t really care much about name recognition, but it will be really cool to see my name next to Patty’s and Fred’s and all my peers over the years who have won Downbeat awards.”

On May 19, Genualdi will release his album “Looking Through the Glass,” through his website. The album is a songwriting project featuring jazz saxophonist and composer Tim Berne and experimental percussionist Jon Mueller.

This is the third straight year a Lawrence student has won a DownBeat original composition award. Tim Carrigg, a 2016 Lawrence graduate, won back-to-back honors in 2015 and 2016.

As one of Sturm’s former composition students, Darling points to the high bar he set as part of the reason for the recent string of successes.

“I’m thrilled our jazz composers are doing well. Fred always expected a lot from his composition students,” said Darling, who has taught in the Lawrence jazz department since 2007. “Fred was always incredibly supportive, dedicated and positive so it’s very important to me that we continue to uphold his traditions.”

Since DownBeat launched its Student Music Awards competition in 1978, Lawrence students and ensembles have won a total of 28 SMAs, including eight in the past seven years.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

2017-18 Lawrence Performing Arts Series features renowned classical, jazz musicians

More than a dozen world-class artists will grace the stage of the Lawrence Memorial Chapel during Lawrence University’s 2017-18 Performing Arts Series.

Subscriptions for both the Artist and Jazz series are on sale now. Subscribers may choose from either series for a “Favorite 4” package, with discounts available to senior citizens and students. Single-concert tickets go on sale Sept. 18. For more information, contact the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749 or boxoffice@lawrence.edu.

The Artist Series     

• Jonathan Biss, piano, Friday, Oct. 6, 8 p.m.

A head shot of pianist Jonathan Biss
Pianist Jonathan Biss. Photo by Benjamin Ealovega.

Since making his New York City recital debut as a 20-year old in 2000, Biss has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, and many other of the world’s leading orchestras.

He performs regularly as a guest soloist throughout Europe and in 2002 became first American to be named the BBC’s “New Generation Artist.”

Biss is currently in his second year of the “Beethoven/5” project, in which he will premiere five new piano concertos, each inspired by one of Beethoven’s. He opened the project in 2016 with “The Blind Banister” by Timo Andre, which was a finalist for Pulitzer Prize in Music. Later this year he will debut Sally Beamish’s concerto with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

• Sasha Cooke, mezzo soprano, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, 8 p.m.

A head shot of singer Sasha Cooke
Mezzo soprano Sasha Cooke

A 2011 Grammy Award-winner for her electrifying performance as Kitty Oppenhemier in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of “Doctor Atomic,” Cooke has been racking up acclaim and honors since graduating from Rice University and the Juilliard School, where she made her professional debut.

Hailed by the New York Times as “a luminous standout,” Cooke specializes in contemporary opera and is renowned for her work with the music of Gustav Mahler, which she has performed to robust praise on four continents.

A much-in-demand singer, Cooke has performed with nearly 30 orchestras around the world from New York to New Zealand and from San Francisco to Shanghai.

She released her debut solo album “If you love for beauty” with the Colburn Orchestra in 2012, one of six albums in her discography. Her latest, “Liszt: The Complete Songs, Vol 4” was released in 20

• Colin Currie, percussion, Friday, March 30, 2018, 8 p.m.

A photo of percussionist Colin Currie.
Percussionist Colin Currie

A champion of new music at the highest level, Currie has been called “the world’s finest and most daring percussionist” by British magazine The Spectator. A graduate of England’s Royal Academy of Music, Currie performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors.

Known as an adventurous soloist with an unmatched commitment to creating new music, Currie was recognized by the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2000 with its Young Artist Award and in 2015 with its prestigious Instrumentalist Award.

Professor of Music Dane Richeson, who teaches percussion in the Lawrence conservatory, said Currie “ranks right there with the top contemporary percussionists in the world.”

“Colin has inspired many new compositions that have led the way in breaking new ground for the percussive arts, bringing whole new audiences and appreciation to the art form,” said Richeson. “We’re all grateful for his musical mastery.”

Currie’s 13-album discography includes 2016’s “Dawn to Dust” with the Utah Symphony.

• Joshua Roman, cello, with JACK Quartet, Saturday, April 21, 2018, 8 p.m.

A photo of cellist Joshua Roman.
Cellist Joshua Roman

The 33-year old Roman has earned an international reputation for his wide-ranging repertoire, artistic leadership and versatility. Beyond being a celebrated performer, he is recognized as an accomplished composer and curator.

As artistic director of Seattle’s TownMusic, Roman has showcased his own eclectic musical influences and chamber music favorites while also promoting newly commissioned works. His cultural leadership utilizes digital platforms to harness new audiences, including YouTube for his “Everyday Bach” project, in which he performs Bach’s cello suites in gorgeous settings around the world.

A photo of the musical quartet JACK Quartet
JACK Quartet

He’ll be joined by the JACK Quartet — violinists Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld, violinist John Pickford Richards and cellist Kevin McFarland. Founded in 2007 and based in New York City, the quartet was called “superheroes of the new music world” by the Boston Globe.

Their performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center were met with critical acclaim and their commitment to new music has earned them the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming and New Music USA’s Trailblazer Award.

The Jazz Series

• Lizz Wright, vocalist, Friday, November 3, 7:30 p.m.

A headshot of singer LIzz Wright
Singer Lizz Wright. Photo by Jesse Kitt.

The charismatic, honey-voiced Wright opens Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend. A native of Georgia who makes her home now in North Carolina, Wright’s musical baptism began in church. Her early gospel roots have since been fused with jazz, blues, folk and R&B, earning comparisons to Norah Jones.

She has drawn critical raves since her debut album, “Salt,” zoomed to the top of the contemporary jazz charts in 2003.  Through her three following discs, Wright has demonstrated her innovative interpretation skills and established herself as popular song stylist.

• Storms/Nocturnes with the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, Saturday, Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m.

A photo of the trio Storms/Nocturnes
Storms/Nocturnes

Combine British saxophone legend Tim Garland, world-class vibraphone virtuoso Joe Locke and recent Grammy nominee pianist Geoffrey Keezer and you have a chamber jazz trio with few peers. The extraordinary combination serves as the bookend to Lizz Wright for Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend.

As Storms/Nocturnes, the three artists combine their distinctive talents and diverse backgrounds to create captivating music that can be spacious or immensely complex one moment and delicate the next. No less an authority than jazz legend Chick Corea has said “This trio truly sizzles with virtuosity and creativity.”

After collaborating on a pair of successful releases, “Storms/Nocturnes” in 2002 and “Rising Tide” in 2003, the trio members spent seven years working on individual projects and with other bands before reuniting in 2010 to release the 10-track disc “VIA” the following year. The reunion revived one of the most timeless intercontinental jazz collaborations in the world today.

• Joe Lovano Classic Quartet, Friday, February 2, 2018, 8 p.m.

A photo of saxophonist Joe Lovano
Saxophonist Joe Lavano

For more than 20 years, Lovano has enjoyed an international reputation as one of the world’s premiere tenor saxophonists. Allmusic critic Chris Kelsey has described him as “”the tenor titan for our times.”

A 2000 Grammy Award winner, Lovano more recently was recognized by DownBeat magazine and the Jazz Journalists Association as 2014’s tenor saxophonist of the year.

José Encarnación, director of jazz studies at Lawrence who met Lovano at the Heineken Jazz Festival in the late 1990s, calls him “one of my favorite saxophone players ever.

“Joe’s unique voice on the saxophone, or any other instrument he plays, is so full of expression and freedom,” said Encarnación. “He possesses that innate ability in his playing to convey the sense of fresh spontaneity that has always characterized the music’s greatest improvisers.”

• Vijay Iyer Sextet, Friday, May 11, 2018, 8 p.m.

A photo of pianist Vijay Iyer
Pianist Vijay Iyer

A three-time recipient (2012, ’15, ’16) of DownBeat magazine’s “Artist of the Year” honor, Iyer unprecedentedly added Pianist of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year, Jazz Group of the Year and Rising Star Composer honors in the 2012 Downbeat International Critics Poll.

It’s little wonder the The New York Times wrote “There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.”

The recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 2013, Iyer has expanded his acclaimed piano trio to a sextet by adding renowned horn players Graham Haynes, Steve Lehman and Mark Shim.

In 2014, Iyer began a permanent appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in Harvard University’s music department.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

 

 

Bridging Cultural Gaps: Senior Sam Genualdi will travel the globe in search of musical collaborations as Watson Fellow

Music has always been a part of Sam Genualdi’s DNA.

A Head shot of Lawrence University student Sam Genualdi
Sam Genualdi ’17

He grew up as a serial instrumentalist, working his way through a litany of recommendations from his parents — violin, piano, percussion, double bass — but it wasn’t until he taught himself to play the guitar at the age of 15 that he found his sweet spot.

“When I picked up the guitar, it felt like something on my terms,” said Genualdi, a senior at Lawrence University from Evanston, Ill. “I felt like I was rebelling against my parents through the electric guitar.”

As his musical interests evolved, he discovered collaborating with other musicians was vital to his creative process. Later this year, Genualdi will embark on a year-long musical “binge” to feed his creative hunger that will take him around the world to engage in collaborations with musicians he’s never met.

Genualdi, a student-designed contemporary improvisation major at Lawrence, has been named one of 40 national recipients of a $30,000 Watson Fellowship for a wanderjahr of independent travel and exploration. Beginning in August, Genualdi will spend 12 months visiting Scotland, Peru, Indonesia, India and Japan.

“I plan to spend my Watson year in five countries steeped in unfamiliar musical traditions,” said Genualdi, Lawrence’s 72nd Watson Fellow since the program’s inception in 1969. “Music can be a powerful tool to bridge cultural gaps. I hope to co-create music that makes this evident. I want to engage in musical collaborations that push against the boundaries of existing genres.

“I have always thrived on collaboration,” added Genualdi, who has had plenty of opportunities as a member of numerous groups and ensembles at Lawrence, including the small jazz combos, the improvisation group IGLU, Gamelan Cahaya Asri and the Sambistas Brazilian drumming group, among others. “While I’ve done a fair amount of solitary work as a musician, the experiences that most excite me are those that involve interacting with other people.”

At each of his global destinations, Genualdi plans to meet musicians he hopes to work with by attending concerts and jam sessions. He will approach local musicians as a student to develop relationships and more effectively absorb the culture.

Sam is infinitely curious about sonic possibilities and how improvisation and collaboration can create
musical worlds yet unimagined.”

— Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory of music

“Taking lessons will give me the opportunity to interact with these musicians on a personal level, accumulate skills and expand my musical vocabulary,” said Genuldi. “I may learn a new instrument to gain perspective, but mainly I intend to communicate musically through my primary voice, the guitar.”

In Scotland, Genualdi will focus on the country’s rich history of stringed instruments, including guitar. In Peru, he will work with within Afro-Peruvian music traditions which combine African, European and native influences.

“Afro-Peruvian music along with the salsa and flamenco traditions prevalent in Lima involve unique forms of improvisation,” said Genualdi. “My background in jazz will help me find common repertoire to play with locals because of the relatively recent surge in the fusion of jazz and local traditions.”

January will find Genualdi in Bali where he looks to expand his experience with Indonesian music, which has been limited to his work with Gamelan Cahaya Asr. The following three months will take him to India, where traditions of improvisation in Hindustani music run deep. Much of his time there will focus on working with several highly regarded sitarists.

The final three months of his travels will be spent in Tokyo’s vibrant musical community with its improvised and experimental music scene. Genualdi calls the enthusiasm in Japan for fringe musical projects “inspiring.”

A photo of Lawrence University student Sam Genualdi playing his guitar.
When it comes to instruments, the guitar serves as Sam Genualdi’s “voice” of choice.

Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory of music and Lawrence’s campus liaison to the Watson Foundation, calls Genualdi “an explorer of sound.”

“Sam is infinitely curious about sonic possibilities and how improvisation and collaboration can create musical worlds yet unimagined,” said Pertl, himself a Watson Fellow in 1986 as a Lawrence senior. “He has been pushing the boundaries of improvisation during his time at Lawrence and now will have an opportunity to explore his passion across the globe. I can’t wait to see what new musical concoctions will emerge from his grand adventure.”

Genualdi says the Watson experience will deepen his relationship to music and profoundly affect every aspect of his life moving forward.

“The musical experiences I’ll have in each country is sure to be different, but each will help   bring into focus a larger picture of the human experience. Music is an important part of lives across the globe and I am intensely inspired by discovering these connections.”

Genualdi was selected for the Watson Fellowship from among 149 finalists nominated by 40 leading liberal arts colleges. This year’s 49th class of Watson Fellows hail from 21 states and six countries and will collectively visit 67 countries.

More than 2,700 students have been awarded Watson Fellowships, providing opportunities to test their aspirations, abilities and perseverance through a personal project that is cultivated on an international scale. Watson Fellows have gone on to become international leaders in their fields including CEOs of major corporations, college presidents, MacArthur grant recipients, Pulitzer Prize winners, diplomats, artists, lawyers, doctors, faculty, journalists, and many renowned researchers and innovators.

The fellowship was established by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of International Business Machines Corp., and his wife, Jeannette, to honor their parents’ long-standing interest in education and world affairs.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence welcomes Gerald Clayton Trio with guest artist Dayna Stephens for Jazz Series concert

Virtuoso jazz pianist Gerald Clayton brings his hard-swinging, melodic style along with an impressive pedigree to the Lawrence Memorial Chapel Friday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. for the third concert of Lawrence University’s 2016-17 Jazz Series.

Tickets for the Gerald Clayton Trio and special guest Dayna Stephens, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students are available online through the Lawrence Box Office or by calling 920-832-6749.

A photo of Gerald Clayton sitting in front of a grand piano.One of the leaders of the new generation of young jazz musicians, Gerald Clayton learned his craft playing with his legendary father, composer, arranger, conductor bassist extraordinaire John Clayton, and his uncle Jeff Clayton, noted alto saxophonist and multi-reed instrumentalist, in the Clayton Brothers combo.

Beyond the family influences, Gerald has been a much in-demand sideman, playing and recording with the likes of Diana Krall, Ambrose Akinmusire, Roy Hargrove and Terry Lyne Carrington. National Public Radio called Clayton “a warm and graceful player, with plenty of personal nuance” while DownBeat magazine has hailed him for his “nuanced touch, precise articulation and the way he constructs a narrative for his solos.”

A four-time Grammy Award nominee, Gerald formed his own trio in 2008 with drummer Justin Brown and bassist Joe Sanders.

The trio will be joined for the Lawrence concert by tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens, a former student of trumpeter Terence Blanchard, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

Jose Encarnación, director of the jazz studies program at Lawrence, calls Gerald Clayton “one of my favorite voices in improvised music.”

“Gerald’s musical stories are always honest, fresh and natural. He is the kind of artist that is always exploring and innovating,” said Encarnación. “It will be an honor to have him perform as part of our Jazz Series.”

Clayton’s discography includes his 2010 debut, “Two Shades,” for which he earned a Grammy Award nomination for best improvised jazz solo for his arrangement of Cole Porter’s “All of You.” His most recent releases 2012’s “Bond: The Paris Sessions” and 2013’s “Life Forum” both earned Clayton Grammy Award nominations for best jazz instrumental album.

The Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet closes Lawrence’s Jazz Series on May 13.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence Jazz Series welcomes guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel

Trailblazing guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and his New Quartet band close out Lawrence University’s 2015-16 Jazz Series Friday, May 13 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Tickets, at $25/$30 for adults, $20/$25 for seniors and $18/$20 for students are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Kurt-Rosenwinkel_newsblog_2
Kurt Rosenwinkel

During his 25-year career, Rosenwinkel, who lives in Berlin, Germany, has evolved the language of jazz in a way few other guitarists have since his arrival on the scene. He won the 1995 Composer’s Award from the National Endowment for the Arts and since has released 10 studio albums.

He also has been featured on more than 75 other albums, including hip-hop veteran Q-Tip’s “Renaissance” project. His extensive list of collaborations includes such dynamic peers as Brad Mehldau, Brian Blade, Joshua Redman and Chris Potter as well as jazz elders Joe Henderson, Paul Motian and Gary Burton.

“Kurt is both unique and very steeped in bebop tradition,” said Steve Peplin, who teaches jazz guitar at Lawrence. “His earlier work really shows how deeply rooted he is in the language of jazz. His compositions, on the other hand, are very modern, often informed by the new augmented-scale thing happening around the globe, but much more deep than just another harmonic concept Kurt reminds me of Lennie Tristano in the way he synthesizes the old and the new.

“His emphasis on tone and a light touch, combined with singing his lines in unison with his guitar creates a ghostly sonority not often heard in modern jazz guitar,” Peplin added.

Rosenwinkel says his music is about “the relationship that we each have with the universe at large and how we use our intuition to hear what it is telling us.”

His most recent album, 2012’s “Star of Jupiter,” which he says came to him in a dream, underscores that concept, transporting “listeners on a journey toward discovery, truth and ultimately peace.”

It features his New Quartet band — pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner — a fiery group of rising stars and veterans-in-the-making.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.